Die US-Amerikanerin Caroline Gleich ist in aller Munde – sie ist auf dem Cover des Powder Magazine, Ambassador für Patagonia und Umweltaktivistin. Uns hat die sympathische Freeskierin aber vor allem von ihrer neuen Leidenschaft Ski-Mountaineering erzählt und wie sie sich ihrer Angst stellt. Ganz nebenbei hat sie uns einen Einblick in ihre ganz persönliche Welt gegeben.

Interview Caroline Gleich bei Outdoormind

Hi Caroline. How are you and where on earth are you right now?

I’m enjoying spending some time at home in Salt Lake City, UT. After a busy 2014-15 winter season of traveling (I visited Italy, Slovenia, Oregon, New Hampshire, Vermont and Colorado), it feels right to spend some time working on local projects in familiar terrain and snow.

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

More and more, I describe myself as a ski mountaineer because climbing up mountains to ski down them is my favorite thing to do! I love the intellectual challenge of figuring out a way to ski the big mountains I see around me. I’ve spent many years honing my skills, route-finding, snowpack analysis and avalanche forecasting, climbing, managing the rope, and training to have the endurance to climb all day. But that is just one part of my job. There is also everything that goes in to being a professional skier, and figuring out the logistics to have those trips and times when I can just focus on eating, sleeping, climbing and skiing. I spend a lot of time in the office, working on e-mails and communicating with sponsors, photographers, athletes and videographers to help produce projects, video and photo shoots. Another aspect of my job is providing feedback on product, both in terms of technical performance (that is one of the main jobs of ambassadors for Patagonia) and design aesthetics (for instance, consulting with Nordica on new graphics for their 15-16 women’s ski line).  And then there is training, to make sure I am in peak physical shape to accomplish my personal and professional goals in the mountains. So that takes up a lot of my time as well. Basically, everyday is a little bit different, but I love all the challenges and figuring out how to make it work!

You are an outstanding skier, but how did this all get started?

When I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a professional skier. Since I didn’t come from a competitive ski racing or freestyle background, I saw an avenue to making it as a professional by working with sponsors and on photo and video projects. I had a great mentor, Kristen Ulmer, and since her, I’ve had many other mentors. I looked at athletes I admired, like Jenn Berg, Ingrid Backstrom, Charlotte Moats (among many others) and tried to learn from their example. I knew I had to catch up in terms of my skiing, so I skied everyday and chased down locals and pros at Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton. I would ski as much and as fast as I could and try to follow better skiers, turn for turn. Basically, I had so much stoke, drive and passion, I knew it was my calling and I knew I had to make it work. When there’s a will, there’s a way. It took many, many years, there were many ups and downs, but so far, it’s working well!

Caroline Gleich beim Freeriden
Caroline Gleich beim Freeriden (c) Rob Lea
Caroline beim Ski-Mountaineering
Caroline beim Ski-Mountaineering (c) Rob Lea
Caroline Gleich beim Sktouren
Caroline Gleich (c) Grayson Schaffer
Berge sind ihre Leidenschaft
Berge sind ihre Leidenschaft (c) Rob Lea

Recently you are a lot into ski mountaineering. Is this the next step following „normal“ freeriding?

For me, ski mountaineering is what I always wanted to do. I always loved climbing and backpacking as a child. I don’t know if it’s the next step following normal freeriding for everyone. There are aspects of ski mountaineering in freeriding, and there are places where the disciplines cross over, but it’s a different mentality. There are so many ways to access the mountains, and so many subtleties of style. I always knew that ski mountaineering is what I wanted to do, it just took me many years to master the complicated skill set to actively pursue it.

For you, what is the inspiration of ski mountaineering?

I think the inspiration comes from my childhood. I grew up in Minnesota, it’s very cold and very flat. Once or twice a year, my family would take a road trip together to the West, and there l first saw the Wasatch Range and other impressive peaks. I saw them, and I instantly knew I wanted to climb them. I think it was the contrast, of traveling across the United States, and seeing the terrain. It was also the times that my family felt most together, and I found a powerful sense of belonging while we were backpacking and skiing. I love planning and recreating these experiences.

While skiing steep lines, how do you manage to stay focused and calm? Are you afraid sometimes?

Yes there are fears when skiing steep lines, but I have learned to trust my intuition. I try to break down all the pieces of the puzzle – making sure I know the route I am skiing, and asking myself, what are the hazards? What happens if I fall? What happens if there is an avalanche? What happens if I hit a rock or if the snow conditions change part way through the line? If I feel I can manage the risk, then I go for it, focusing on one turn at a time. And taking a moment before I drop in to appreciate the scenery and feel gratitude to be in the mountains.

It’s really important to trust yourself and know what you are capable of to make decisions independently. I also make sure I am skiing the line because I want to ski it, not because I a photographer or filmmaker wants me to ski it. And then, sometimes, if you’re not feeling it, you walk away. And try not to let yourself feel emotional. It’s just a mountain, it will be there. 

 You are an ambassador of Patagonia, which is a forerunner of eco-friendly outdoor companies and you are also in the Riders Alliance of POW-Protect our Winters. Are environmental protection vales also important in your private life?

Yes – I’ve always been an environmentalist before I really even knew what it was. From a young age, I always enjoyed human-powered activities, being in nature and being a good steward of the earth. For me, living in an examined life is a way to maximize utility- I find it most gratifying and fun! It’s a way of life. As a skier, it’s important to speak up about the environmental crises because it threatens the places I love to play. I choose to focus on environmental issues because it seems that by doing the right thing environmentally, we also make choices that are better for health and for people too!

Caroline Gleich beim Freeriden
Caroline Gleich beim Freeriden (c) Rob Lea
Caroline Gleich
How early would you wake up to chase something you love? (c) Grayson Schaffer
Caroline beim Trailrunning
Caroline beim Trailrunning (c) Rob Lea

In this context, do you think that it´s time for the outdoor industry to consider sustainability much more?

I think sustainability has become too much of a buzz-word. I am very influenced by Patagonia’s design and business philosophy (and Yvon Chouinard’s books, “Let My People Go Surfing,” and “The Responsible Company”), and I think all companies and business should strive to become more responsible in every aspect  by examining their supply chain, reducing their carbon footprint, making the highest quality products and treating others with respect.

Many times women are underrated in action sports, but now more special female events are coming up. Do you think this is useful for the sport or is it just fun to hang out with your girls?

I think there are positives and negatives to special female events. On the one hand, it is encouraging for young women to have opportunities to interact with other women. But on the flipside, I worry that we are putting ourselves into a special, segregated class. I grew up with three brothers, and I always challenged myself to keep up and compete with them. What I think is awesome is when women are incorporated into events and movies and magazines and celebrated for their accomplishments, without a specific mention of gender. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but I think it can be condescending to place women into a special category and be asked to speak for the entire gender.

You travelled and skied lots of places. Are there any places left you want to see/ski soon?

SO many places I want to see/ski! I love the adventure of the unknown.

Summer is just around the corner. What are your plans for the warmer days?

Lots of training, rock climbing, hiking, mountaineering, backpacking, swimming, gardening, working on creative art projects!

And pretty classic: any last words you want to spread?

Follow your heart and dream big.

Thank you so much for your time, Caroline. We wish you all the best.


Mehr Informationen findet ihr auch unter http://www.carolinegleich.com